Straight off…this is one of the most contrived of malts I’ve ever tasted. And while that in and of itself is absolutely forgiveable, I’m not finding myself in a very charitable spirit with this one (no pun intended).
Let’s face it…there are a lot of rather ‘manufactured’ whiskies out there (cask finished, re-racked, aesthically enhanced, added to, etc). No issues. Really, these are nothing more than variations on a theme that play within the rules of their jurisdictions. It all hinges on how well the integration of these factors works and how natural the finished product ends up to be. I can’t stress how important that is.
Now here’s the rub…while it irritates the f*ck outta me how plastic and synthetic the Ealanta is…at the same time I can’t really say it’s a bad whisky. Damning with faint praise, I know, but it happens to be the reality of the situation. It’s fresh…certainly vibrant…absolutely unique…and not really poorly crafted, I’d say. Maybe it’s a case of too much of a good thing. Like a malt that is over-cooked from a very active sherry cask, here we have far too much of the American virgin oak influence. We’re now blurring lines between something we’d expect out of Kentucky and something we see labeled as from Scotland.
For the record, this is a 19 year old single malt from Glenmorangie, the fourth release in their ‘Private Edition’ range, and was matured in…as mentioned…American virgin oak casks. Man…19 years is a looooooong time for that sort of massive active oak influence.
The reality is that this malt is not principally far off from GlenDronach’s 14 year old Virgin Oak. But to be fair to the ‘Dronach, which I rather liked, this one is way more perfumed and olfactorily cloying. That simply reinforces the idiom that concept is not all, and the proof is in the execution.
Apparently ‘Ealanta’ is Gaelic for ‘skilled and ingenious’. Hmmmm. Ok. If you say so. Very modest, I might add.
One last note: We – my mates and I – for the most part really like Glenmorangie. I’m not sure if that is an ‘in spite of’ or ‘because of’ all of their tomfoolery type of situation. The Ealanta, however, is a ‘miss’ in my books. Not quite on par with the ‘Pride’ debacle, but still a miscalculation (in my ‘umble opinion, anyway).
Nose: Very redolent of perfume and floral-y alcohol. Massive notes of bourbon. In fact…if tasted blindly…I might actually think this was a bourbon. Spice. Lots of spice. Wine-y fruit notes. Cinnamon hearts candies. Cherry. Citrus pith. Pumpkin scones. Pastry. Sugary white chocolate. Not sure how I can better put it than to say it is a very synthetic nose.
Palate: Again…this is almost bourbon territory. Cinnamon and cherry. Like chewing on wood shavings. More on the white chocolate. Some slightly tangy notes as it develops. Some more fruity ones as it fades.
Incredibly smooth, but too much so. Like Bambi on ice. The smoothness is causing the fall. In short…perfume meets bourbon.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt
Wow. I am simply boggled. Apparently Jim Murray has awarded this World Whisky of the Year. It’s not often I find myself at a loss for words (as many of you know), but this one has me miles beyond perplexed. I generally let other reviewers say their piece, as they let me say mine, and leave the squabbling to those on the forums and such, but Murray is such a fountainhead for whisky that it is almost unconscionable NOT to speak up in direct defiance of a…quite frankly…fucking ridiculous 97.5 score awarded to a middling malt.
Occasionally you hear people level accusations before about whether or not certain writers were on the take for their high marks (i’m sure many of us have experienced this). Generally that is one discussion I’ll leave alone (at least in public), but I’m seriously wondering at this point if all corresondence should henceforth be addressed to jmurray(at)lvmh(dot)com.
Just my opinions here, friends, but this is a fucking dodgy mark. Save your money. Don’t rush out and clear the shelves of this one.
On the other hand, buy a few and stash them away to sell to all the folks 10 years from now who still think Jim Murray is the final word on good whisky. At least you won’t be tempted to drink them…
It’s Jim Murray’s “over enthusiasm” for entry-level stuff alone that invalidates the Whisky Bible as a reference for me – 94 for Black Grouse, 87.5 for JW Red Label, 95.5 for Alberta Premium, 96 for Ballentine’s Finest. Yet for the very high marks often assigned to the high volume products, it’s hard to me to see him in anyone’s “pocket” because some of his other marks are also so eccentrically high (and sometimes low) I’ve come to think that’s really the point – to make him the standout “bad boy” of whisky, always controversial and quotable (especially on shelf talkers). There are a lot of people who are just getting into whisky and unfortunately, in my opinion, the Whisky Bible provides the comprehensive single source of guidance which many are looking for. By making Jim Murray “the man” on whisky, just as some would elevate Ralfy to that position (although I don’t believe he really seeks it) – not just as one opinion, but THE opinion – they make their buying choices simpler by reductive thinking, and this is reinforced by retailers quoting Murray’s hyper-positive reviews AS “the man” to listen to.